By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
One of Durham Region’s longest clothing drives is marking its 30th anniversary this fall.
The Durham Region Schools Food for Clothing Exchange is underway with the goal of providing warm clothing for those in need this winter.
Jim Fergusson, founder of the annual event, says the need for donations, as well as the number of donations, goes up every year.
Approximately 8,000 items of clothing are donated each year, with around 400 to 500 people collecting clothing.
The exchange started after Fergusson had a fateful encounter with a young girl on a cold winter day.
While warming up his car before taking his children to school, Fergusson saw a young girl walking with only a light jacket, track pants and rubber boots.
After confirming with Fergusson that she was cold, he invited her into his car to warm up.
This experience showed Fergusson the immense need for better winter clothing around Durham Region. He was inspired by this to create the exchange, and it is now hitting its 30th anniversary.
Fergusson says that reaching the 30 year-mark is “a great accomplishment.”
“Of course, I’ve had a lot of help getting there. But, it’d good because we see it growing pretty well every year.”
Fergusson thinks that there has been an improvement in how children are being clothed during winter. He doesn’t take all the credit though, as he says that other agencies have helped as well.
“I think there’s more help out there today than there was years ago,” he says.
While some might be hesitant about coming out, Fergusson says that there is no need.
“If they can’t afford to make a food donation, that’s fine, that’s not compulsory,” he says. “A lot of them feel good about the fact that even though they may only be given two or three items, at least they’re contributing to helping someone else.”
Fergusson says that the goal was always to make sure that those who are there in need do not feel like they are taking a handout.
The exchange isn’t entirely about helping children though, as there will be clothes for adults as well.
All types of clothing will be accepted at the exchange, even adult sizes, as it is a family exchange.
Donations can be dropped off at Bobby Orr Public School, 7 Waterloo Street in Oshawa.
Clothing that needs dry cleaning can be dropped off at Professional Dry Cleaners, King Street West in Oshawa, and Carriage Trade Cleaners, 932 Simcoe Street North in Oshawa, Betty Brite Cleaners, 864 Brock Street North in Whitby.
Clothing can be picked up on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 9 a.m. to noon at the school.